Spartacus (died 71 BC), Roman slave and gladiator,born in Thrace. He is thought to have been a deserterfrom the Roman army, and he was sold as a slave to atrainer of gladiators at Capua. In 73 BC he escapedwith other runaway gladiators and took refuge on MountVesuvius, where he was joined by large numbers ofescaped slaves. As leader of the historic insurrectionof Roman slaves known as the Third Servile War, orGladiators’ War, he defeated two Roman armies, and hisforces overran southern Italy. In 72 BC he defeatedthree more Roman armies and reached Cisalpine Gaul,where he planned to disperse his followers to theirhomes. They decided to remain in Italy for the sake ofplunder, and Spartacus marched south again.
In 71 BCthe Roman commander Marcus Licinius Crassus forcedSpartacus and his followers into the narrow peninsulaof Rhegium (now Reggio di Calabria), from which,however, they escaped through the Roman lines. Crassusthen pursued Spartacus to Lucania, where the rebelarmy was destroyed and Spartacus was killed in battle.Upon his death the insurrection came to an end, andthe captured rebels were crucified. A few who escapedto the north were killed by Pompey the Great, who wasBibliography: